Your park and recreation organization exists to bring people together around shared community experiences. In order to accomplish this purpose, supporter outreach should be a top priority.
Communicating effectively with supporters is essential not only for getting visitors to your organization, but also for encouraging those visitors to deepen their involvement through attending events, becoming members or volunteers, or participating in fundraising initiatives.
In this guide, we’ll share three tips to take your organization’s communications to the next level. Whether you run a parks and recreation agency, zoo, nature center or any other kind of community organization, these strategies can help you engage new and existing supporters, promote your activities and spread awareness about your work in the community.
1. Take a Multi-Channel Approach to Marketing
To reach as many supporters as possible, spread the word about your organization and its activities using several different marketing methods. Multi-channel outreach creates more touch points so more supporters can learn about what you do and be encouraged to get involved.
Spread the word about your organization by leveraging the following marketing channels:
- Your organization’s website. This communication tool serves as the main hub of information about your organization, as well as a central location for supporters to make online donations and sign up for events.
- Email marketing. Your organization can send countless types of emails to supporters, from recurring newsletters to donation confirmations to last-minute program updates.
- Social media. Popular social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and TikTok allow supporters to engage in conversation with your organization and with other followers through comments and sharing features, helping to build community.
- Print marketing. Although digital marketing methods often come to mind first when discussing supporter outreach, flyers and direct mail are still useful to catch new supporters’ attention, solicit contributions, and advertise activities locally.
On each of these marketing channels, make sure to feature your agency’s branding. Seeing your logo, color scheme, and consistent messaging across various channels helps build trust with supporters and makes your organization stand out from others in your vertical.
2. Segment Your Organization’s Supporters
To communicate effectively with your organization’s audience, you first need to understand who that audience is. One way to accomplish this is through supporter segmentation, which is the process of dividing your supporters into groups based on shared characteristics. According to Doubleknot’s donor segmentation guide, “Segmentation makes it possible to tailor your [marketing] content so that it's most likely to resonate with each group.”
Some of the most common supporter segments that parks, zoos and nature centers need to communicate with include:
- First-time visitors. Quickly following up with those who come to your organization for the first time shows them that you noticed their visit and hope they return.
- Event attendees. Once a supporter registers for your event, take note of their contact information so you can share additional event information with the right individuals.
- Members. If your organization has a membership program, keeping members engaged is essential to ensure consistent support. Your communications with your member segment can range from reminders about their membership status to advance notices about upcoming programming and invitations to members-only events.
Additionally, your organization can use data on supporters’ shared demographics and engagement histories to develop custom segments that align with your outreach goals. For instance, if you’re trying to market your park to families, you might create a segment of parents and guardians of young children. Then, you’ll be able to efficiently send them information about your youth sports leagues and summer camps that they might want to sign their children up for.
3. Personalize Your Messages
In addition to targeting specific supporter segments, tailor your communications to each individual recipient whenever possible. Audiences are generally more receptive to personalized communications because they show that your organization sees each supporter as a person, not just as a data point or an ATM.
When sending individualized communications such as thank-you notes, address the supporter by their preferred name and reference their specific history of involvement to show your appreciation. Even adding each recipient’s name to the subject line of a mass email blast can make them more receptive to opening, reading and acting on your message.
By applying the tips above to your strategy, your park and recreation agency, zoo or nature center can boost its outreach efforts and engage your community more effectively. Remember to take a data-driven approach to marketing, stay organized throughout the process and make adjustments as needed to connect with your visitors and encourage them to deepen their involvement.
Elissa K. Miller, M.Ed. is Doubleknot’s Communications Director. As the former development director for a regional nonprofit, she’s passionate about helping nonprofits and youth-serving organizations harness new technologies to streamline operations and support their missions.